Seasons change and needs change, knowing how to adjust your life rhythm to these changes makes all the difference in how you play this instrument of life.
I decided to write about self-care and be crystal clear on what that looks like for me in this season AND I hope it might spark a little something in you all if it’s needed.
I don’t want to bore anyone with too many details, but the demands of parenting and the sometimes wacky (not always good) mix of my home-schooling community caught up to me recently. I found myself stacked like a house of cards and it wasn’t going to take too much for me to tumble.
I’ve come to realize with a certain clarity that I really didn’t need that much community before parenthood. That’s not to say that I didn’t have friends or go out, because I did – often. But here’s the thing, after I met my husband who’s also my best friend, we developed a very homey lifestyle for our first 10+ years together. Yes we visited friends and they’d visit us, but it narrowed over the years to very close friends and not big community outings. I was good to go.
Enter children and the last 10+ years and all of a sudden I found myself craving a community that I didn’t even know I needed, but I did. Call it something instinctual that woke up when I found myself raising little people, three little people to be exact. It was a new need for support – guidance – wisdom from ancestors – a place (new container) to exchange ideas and conversation. I knew I had to find my tribe, so I began my quest.
Holy hell it’s been a wild ride…
I found some core tribal members and muddled through our early years. Although some days I could just scream at the thought of another playdate, I did meet and connect with a few cool people who kept me sane. The reality of parenting was nothing like I’d imagined and many detours along with concessions were made along the way.
Now fast forward to homeschooling said children (no it was not planned) and all of a sudden I find myself needing even more community for support. Only here’s the thing, I’ve now entered a world filled with a broad spectrum of learning philosophies no clear manual (because it doesn’t exist) and it can be overwhelming on any given day, because this is big new territory that makes for some potentially tricky situations.
On one side of this general spectrum there’s the lefty crunchy loosies and on the complete opposite side there’s the right and often rigid religious folks AND of course, everything in between (that would be me). Oh and I forgot, the debate between unschooling and traditional schooling is also a factor at play. This is the recipe for what I refer to as my monkey mind merry-go-round. So much to take in and sort out, to filter through a new scope, and gain a clarity on which direction to head in.
It’s a beautiful thing when we can align ourselves with other parents and all get along (as we should), but when it’s otherwise – watch out, because it can get ugly out there!
So I had an ugly encounter recently. In an attempt to find support through a cooperative learning environment, I found myself in the hands of a group of seemingly united and community minded individuals who in reality turned out to be hurtful and close minded people who feel ‘justified’ in their judgement of others (think chosen ones). No details needed other than to say that I couldn’t be a part of it. So I took my family and peacefully parted ways. But it left me feeling hollow at a time when I was already feeling weakened by other factors in my life AND it was the loss of what I thought initially would be a beautiful community and source of support.
What really had me on the edge of upset was the recent labs I got back for my 10 year old son who has diabetes type 1 (auto-immune). The labs showed a progression of destruction in my son’s body. The realization that he’s not healing hit me like a ton of bricks. I know many of you may be thinking there’s no cure for diabetes and I get that, but I’m the kind of mother who never stops looking and if there’s any hope of healing or any sliver of a treatment that staves off the progression of destruction to his body, I run like hell towards that end. Because the truth is, we don’t have the answers yet and we just don’t know AND I have to do my best. For him. The weight of this challenge has been heavier lately AND it’s always a balancing act to maintain a healthy life rhythm with this in mind. Work in progress…
In comes the essential self-care practices that I so heavily rely on when times get a little tricky and here’s why:
I used to think I was a superwoman, because I know that I’m highly capable of many things. What I learned to leave behind from my martyrdom upbringing was that just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should.
Let me take that a bit further. I know now that what I initially thought could be viewed as selfish – meaning taking time out to care for yourself- is actually quite heroic. When a mother (any caretaker) is able to acknowledge that they offer a benefit not only to themselves, but the people they care for when they are able to show up in their roles as their best selves, it’s a win-win situation.
Self-care in reality for me is the art of attuning in to your needs and responding to your desires from a month to month- week to week- day to day- and even moment to moment way. It’s in essence a cultivation and a grounded level of awareness within yourself. Knowing where some attention needs to go and understanding the need to give the time for it to go there.
That means we need to yield to ourselves when we need a touch of sweetness in our lives and it means that our allegiances must start with us, because the truth is, when we are true to ourselves, we can share that with others.
This doesn’t mean my life is perfect AND I certainly don’t have all my ‘stuff’ together. It does mean that I try very hard to be aware in the present moment of life. To have the containers open and ready to fill with what I need to stay filled and be fulfilled so I can bring my best, while still allowing for the graces and permissions of being ME. It also means that I look for support where I need it through others and groups, because together we’re better.
So in addition to my usual routine of staying hydrated and making good food choices, here’s what I’ve been doing more of lately:
1. Journaling – because when you write things down it creates an organization of thoughts. It can act as a release from the monkey-mind-merry-go-round. This act is empowering in a way that allows for a processing, clarity and a grounding of ideas. Those ideas are then released to build upon or let go. It’s cathartic.
2. Eating more bitter greens – because the spring brings change and my body changes with the seasons. I’ve learned that I adjust better when I adjust my dietary needs. The greens help clean out the heaviness of winter foods.
3. Getting out in nature and taking in the calm. Hiking trails and chilly walks on the beach have been the right fit lately. We need to turn off from the flood of information coming in. News feeds, email, texts, social media. It’s all too much all the time, we weren’t designed for this sustained level of input. Quiet calm is anchoring for the soul.
So now I ask you this:
Q: What are some things that you need most right now? (We usually have a good idea when we take the time to listen).
Q: Where do you need to add a little sweetness to yourself in your life?
Q: What are some things you could be doing for your essential self-care practices?